More than 150 cooperatives from across the country are set to participate in an exhibition slated for later this month in Kigali.
The two-day trade fair is scheduled to run on March 28-29, at Kigali Conference and Exhibition Village, commonly known as Camp Kigali.
The first ever such expo is expected to link cooperatives to partners and business community in Rwanda in a bid to open up wider markets linkages, according to Augustin Katabarwa, the Chairman for National Cooperative Confederation of Rwanda (NCCR).
Briefing journalists in Kigali yesterday, Katabarwa said the exhibition will give even little known cooperatives a chance to showcase their products.
“There are so many cooperatives out there which do great work with good products but they are not known to Rwandans. This is an opportunity for them to come together and showcase what they are doing to contribute to the socio-economic development of the country,” he said.
Ivan Rwigamba Museruka, the Human Resource Specialist at Rwanda Cooperatives Agency (RCA), said that besides the exhibition, a cooperatives conference is also planned during which participants will share ideas on access to finance, market for their products, and administration.
He observed that cooperatives have demonstrated capacity to develop their members, and play a significant role in promoting the Made-in-Rwanda programme.
At least 16 speakers will discuss key topics about cooperatives and their contribution to the development of the country and social wellbeing of Rwandans.
Elyse Rugwizangoga, the chairperson of COPRORIZ Ntende, a rice growers’ cooperative in Gatsibo District, said they were eagerly waiting for the exhibition.
“We have been visiting several other exhibitions but never had one exclusive for cooperatives,” said Rugwizangoga.
Katabarwa said an exhibition for cooperatives had not been organised due to various challenges.
“We had to first lay the foundation for cooperatives by enabling them to produce and add value. Today, cooperatives have reached the level we like, why we want their products to come to light,” he said.
There are over 8800 registered cooperatives in the country with over three million members.
Most of the cooperatives began from scratch but now have become major producers and investors in several sectors.